Gun and ammunition sales soar as defund-the-police movement grows

Coronavirus-fueled fears of social unrest already had Americans panic-buying guns and bullets at record rates earlier this year.

Posted: Jun 24, 2020 2:39 PM
Updated: Jun 24, 2020 2:57 PM

Coronavirus-fueled fears of social unrest already had Americans panic-buying guns and bullets at record rates earlier this year.

That was before the police killing of George Floyd caused an international uproar, leading to protests that, at times, descended into riots, arson and looting in cities across the United States.

Those circumstances and the rise of the Defund the Police movement championed by Black Lives Matter activists have led to higher sales for firearms and ammunition dealers.

Firearms dealers across the country have reported a recent spike in sales, citing the unrest following police brutality protests in support of George Floyd and calls to defund the police as catalysts, according to gun industry analyst Rob Southwick, founder of the market research firm Southwick Associates Inc.

"Anything that can cause people to feel unsafe in relation to possible physical crime to self, others and property can drive firearm sales," Southwick told CNN Business.

Background checks for firearms purchases reached an all-time high in March and maintained record highs for April and May, according to the National Shooting Sports Foundation, a firearms trade association that monitors gun sale-related background checks to track industry trends.

Semi-automatic handguns outpaced shotguns by a two-to-one margin as the weapons of choice among first-time gun buyers, according to gun merchants surveyed by NSSF.

The latest national background check stats won't be available until July, but since Floyd's death on Memorial Day, NSSF Director of Public Affairs Mark Oliva said gun sellers have reported a sales spike similar to the one caused by the coronavirus.

"You're seeing a reaction to people's concerns about being able to provide safety for themselves and the ones that they love," Oliva told CNN Business.

More than 6.5 million gun-sale background checks were conducted from January 1 through April 30, according to the latest NSSF research, which showed a 48% year-over-year rise from the same period in 2019.

Firearms retailers surveyed by NSSF in May estimated that 40% of their sales came from first-time gun buyers.

Oliva said 40% of those first-time gun buyers were women, a relatively high rate for that demographic group. Although gun sales have been up across the country, a rise in first-time gun buyers in left-leaning states like California have helped fuel the national uptick in firearms and ammunition purchases, he noted.

"People are coming off the fences and the sidelines and they're making decisions with their wallets about where they are in this debate about firearms ownership," Oliva said.

Earlier this month, Ben Romanoff, owner of Pittsburgh gun store Ace Sporting Goods, told KDKA-TV that his shop has seen a recent increase in gun purchases, noting that the local protesting and defunding police discussions have raised concerns among a new batch of customers.

Largo, Florida, gun store owner Jillian Biltz of Mad Dog Armory reported a similar gun sales spike last week.

"We've gotten a lot of new customers," Blitz told the local newspaper. "The protests started happening and then people just started getting nervous."

Indiana Coronavirus Cases

Data is updated nightly.

Confirmed Cases: 51612

Reported Deaths: 2760
CountyConfirmedDeaths
Marion12074693
Lake5650249
Elkhart361860
Allen2952134
St. Joseph214869
Hamilton1708101
Cass16459
Hendricks1466100
Johnson1345118
Porter84038
Tippecanoe7799
Vanderburgh7686
Clark71144
Madison67864
LaPorte62328
Howard60758
Bartholomew60145
Kosciusko5824
Marshall5579
Noble52028
Boone49144
LaGrange48610
Jackson4783
Delaware47552
Hancock46836
Shelby45925
Floyd41444
Monroe34828
Morgan34531
Grant32226
Dubois3096
Montgomery29820
Henry29618
Clinton2903
White27610
Dearborn26523
Warrick26129
Vigo2588
Decatur25632
Lawrence25225
Harrison21822
Greene19632
Miami1942
Jennings17912
Putnam1738
DeKalb1694
Scott1659
Wayne1586
Daviess15117
Perry14910
Steuben1382
Orange13723
Jasper1362
Ripley1347
Franklin1288
Gibson1242
Wabash1163
Carroll1142
Starke1083
Whitley1076
Fayette1067
Newton10110
Huntington942
Jefferson872
Wells821
Randolph804
Fulton731
Jay720
Knox710
Washington681
Pulaski661
Clay645
Rush623
Posey610
Spencer571
Owen521
Benton510
Sullivan501
Adams491
Brown431
Blackford402
Fountain362
Crawford330
Switzerland320
Tipton321
Parke270
Martin260
Ohio230
Vermillion200
Warren151
Union140
Pike120
Unassigned0193

Ohio Coronavirus Cases

Data is updated nightly.

Confirmed Cases: 65592

Reported Deaths: 3058
CountyConfirmedDeaths
Franklin12035447
Cuyahoga9208399
Hamilton6950208
Lucas3007306
Marion274839
Montgomery251336
Summit2351209
Pickaway222741
Mahoning1948239
Butler186347
Columbiana138560
Stark1225116
Lorain115269
Trumbull105378
Warren100926
Clark81610
Delaware72415
Fairfield69217
Lake60923
Tuscarawas60910
Medina58932
Licking58312
Belmont57024
Miami51031
Portage50260
Clermont4977
Wood49451
Ashtabula44844
Geauga42843
Richland3786
Wayne37355
Allen36641
Greene3469
Mercer30210
Erie28622
Holmes2615
Darke25926
Huron2472
Madison2229
Ottawa19324
Sandusky16915
Athens1671
Ross1483
Washington14620
Coshocton1424
Putnam14215
Crawford1415
Hardin12312
Morrow1211
Jefferson1152
Auglaize1114
Muskingum1041
Union1021
Preble911
Clinton892
Monroe8917
Hancock861
Lawrence860
Guernsey813
Hocking819
Williams762
Shelby754
Logan711
Scioto710
Carroll703
Ashland682
Fulton670
Brown631
Wyandot635
Champaign551
Fayette550
Knox551
Defiance543
Highland531
Van Wert491
Perry461
Seneca412
Henry350
Paulding320
Jackson300
Pike290
Adams261
Vinton232
Gallia211
Harrison141
Noble140
Meigs130
Morgan110
Unassigned00
Fort Wayne
Broken Clouds
64° wxIcon
Hi: 82° Lo: 58°
Feels Like: 64°
Angola
Clear
63° wxIcon
Hi: 80° Lo: 58°
Feels Like: 63°
Huntington
Scattered Clouds
62° wxIcon
Hi: 81° Lo: 57°
Feels Like: 62°
Decatur
Broken Clouds
63° wxIcon
Hi: 81° Lo: 57°
Feels Like: 63°
Van Wert
Broken Clouds
63° wxIcon
Hi: 82° Lo: 57°
Feels Like: 63°
Dry start to the work week
WFFT Radar
WFFT Temperatures
WFFT National

Community Events